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Gloucestershire's self-harm problem prompts helpline to be made available 365 days a year

By jrmaidment  |  Posted: July 02, 2014

Gloucestershire's hospitals have seen a dramatic increase in the number of people admitted on self-harm grounds

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A helpline will now be available to vulnerable people 365 days a year after Gloucestershire’s self-harm problem was labelled as “significantly worse” than the national average.

Statistics released earlier this year showed the number of people hurting themselves on purpose was on the rise.

And now action is being taken to make sure victims of self-harm know there is always someone they can turn to for help and support.

The county has seen a “sustained increase” in the number of people admitted to hospital because of self-harm since 2005 with 1,411 people admitted in 2013 alone.

The average self-harm admission rate for England was recently estimated at 208 people in every 100,000.

But in Gloucestershire that figure was a much higher 252 while in Cheltenham specifically it was 255 and in Gloucester 346.

As a result a confidential self-harm helpline, launched in Gloucestershire by national charity Rethink Mental Illness in 2009, has extended its opening hours.

The Gloucestershire Self-Harm Helpline used to only be available four days a week.

But as of this week it will be available every day.

The service, funded by Gloucestershire County Council, has helped over 5,500 people since 2009 and people can contact the helpline by telephone, text or online.

Staff at the helpline offer emotional support and information for people that self-harm.

The charity also provides information for families and friends of people who self-harm, as well as to professionals interested in the issue such as teachers.

Emma Johnsey from Rethink Mental Illness Gloucestershire, said: “It’s important that we offer support every day of the year, including bank holidays when we know people are more likely to be in crisis.

“People who self-harm usually do this as a way of dealing with difficult feelings or overwhelming experiences.

“At Rethink Mental Illness we help them by giving them emotional support and also by talking about alternatives to self-harm.

“Our aim is to help people understand how to deal with the feelings that trigger self-harm.”

The helpline is now open daily from 5pm until 10pm.

Anyone living in Gloucestershire can contact the helpline on 0808 801 0606, text on 07537 410022 or get online support at www.rethink.org/glosselfharm

The county’s hospitals saw a two to three fold increase in the number of inpatient stays between September and November 2013 compared to the same period the previous year.

Between April 2009 and March 2013 a total of 3,354 patients were admitted a total of 5,623 times on self-harm grounds.

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